Sunday, August 28, 2016

Youth dissatisfaction - How the NDI indoctrinated and brainwashed Hong Kong’s youth

This is a new feature on our blog, where we discuss a trending item in the news.

In the news: A big topic in the news at the moment is what has caused dissatisfaction in Hong Kong’s youth? Every day someone is trying to explain why Hong Kong’s youth is ‘dissatisfied’, why there are suddenly so many student activists or what has caused our youth to become radicalized, but no one knows why.

The answer is simple – Hong Kong’s youth have been indoctrinated and brainwashed in a targeted program, funded by the US Government and implemented by the National Democratic Institute (NDI), with the aid of local university professors, politicians and other collaborators.

Here’s the evidence:

Timeline to youth radicalization in Hong Kong


In March 1997 the NDI sent their first survey mission to Hong Kong to assess the political environment and identify possibilities for NDI programming in the territory1.

Altogether fourteen NDI survey missions were sent to Hong Kong between 1997 and 2012, all with the same objectives, to assess the political environment and identify possibilities for NDI programming. You can read details of all NDI survey missions to Hong Kong here: NDI Survey Missions to Hong Kong.


In 2004, the NDI found there was a low level of interest and activism by university students2. This is a quote from the 2004 NDI survey mission report:

“Many critics still lament the low level of interest and activism by university students in Hong Kong”.

2004 NDI Civic Update: Young People, not the problem, part of the solution

In 2004 the NDI also issued a Civic Update entitled: Young People, not the problem, part of the solution3. Civic Updates are quarterly publications issued for the information of NDI field agents and the 2004 issue focused on designing and implementing NDI youth programs.

NDI Civic Update on Young People in 2004

The following are extracts from this issue:

  • youth participation should be an essential consideration in the design and implementation of NDI programming … and … the involvement of young people is already an intrinsic component in many NDI programs, 
  • in recent years, NDI has been involved in activities in more than 50 countries to increase the role of young people as civic activists, voters, candidates, political party representatives and elected leaders. 
The types of NDI programs and activities with a youth participation focus or component currently underway include:

  • election monitoring,
  • issue advocacy,
  • leadership development,
  • youth parliaments,
  • party youth wings,
  • parliamentary internships,
  • debate clubs,
  • civic forums,
  • voter education
  • GOTV (Get Out The Vote).  

In the same Civic Update, the NDI rationale for holding a youth parliament in Indonesia was to:

“combat the pervasive apathy and negative view of political participation among young Indonesians”.

Indonesian NDI Youth Parliament

NDI brainwashing and indoctrinating students in 
Indonesian Youth Parliament

NDI brainwashing and indoctrinating students in
Indonesian Youth Parliament


In 2006, a planning meeting was held between the NDI, Professor Michael DeGolyer at HKBU, Robert CHUNG of HKU-POP and others to decide on what future programs the NDI should implement in Hong Kong4.

Professor Michael DeGolyer helped plan and implement NDI programs
 targeting youth 
in Hong Kong

Robert CHUNG helped plan an implement the NDI
Public Opinion Program in Hong Kong

In 2007, the NDI consolidated their activities in Hong Kong into four main programs5:

  • The Promise of Democratization in Hong Kong report series,
  • Public Opinion Polls,
  • Youth Public Participation,
  • Women's Political Participation.

NDI Hong Kong webpage

NDI Programs in Hong Kong

 As we now know, Robert CHUNG would be the main partner in the Public Opinion Poll program, while Michael DeGolyer would be the main partner in the Youth Public Participation program, which included holding ‘Youth Parliaments’ at HKBU..

2007 – 2014. Youth Public Participation program

One way the NDI radicalized our youth was through holding ‘Youth Parliaments’, just like the youth parliament held in Indonesia.

This is a description of the Youth Public Participation Program from the NDI (Hong Kong) webpage - The NDI has worked with the International Studies Department at Baptist University to encourage youth participation in public policy areas. The Institute launched a youth program in September 2007. These are details of the events organized:  

  • in September 2007, students from across Hong Kong reviewed and responded to the government’s Green Paper Consultation on Constitutional Development; 
  • in November 2008, NDI partners organized a summit for students from eight Hong Kong universities.  The students worked in campaign teams to devise campaign strategies and materials, and took part in a set of mock debates around the issues of constitutional reform, environmental regulation and education reform; 
  • in December 2009, the Institute and its partners organized a climate change simulation with eight teams of students each playing the role of a major country, negotiating their own version of the United Nations (UN) treaty on climate change; 
  • in February 2010, local NDI partners organized a nonpartisan public debate on constitutional reform in a Model UN format. After this exercise, the students reflected on their own views to draft a consensual document representing their ideas and aspirations for constitutional reform. Students learned parliamentary process and negotiating skills by coming to consensus.  The students’ proposal was submitted to the government as part of the public consultation process; 
  • in 2012, the NDI sponsored a youth summit on the chief executive election. Participants role-played the part of candidates, election committee members, media and civil society; 
  • in March 2014, the NDI sponsored a two-day student workshop and simulation on constitutional reform with representatives of political parties in Hong Kong and simulation of Legco debate on constitutional reform, held at Kadoorie Farm. 
Hong Kong NDI Youth Parliament in 2010

 NDI Youth Parliament in Hong Kong in 2010

Cyd HO participating in
 NDI Youth Parliament in Hong Kong in 2010

 NDI Youth Parliament in Hong Kong in 2010

 School Kids at
NDI Youth Parliament in Hong Kong in 2010

 NDI recruitment poster at
NDI Youth Parliament in Hong Kong in 2010
 Here’s a link to the video here:


In 2012 the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) awarded the NDI US$460,000 of American Government funds to foster awareness regarding Hong Kong's political institutions and constitutional reform process and to develop the capacity of citizens - particularly university students - to more effectively participate in the public debate on political reform, NDI will work with civil society organizations on parliamentary monitoring, a survey, and development of an Internet portal, allowing students and citizens to explore possible reforms leading to universal suffrage6.

 2012 NDI Civic Update: Youth Programming

Also in 2012 the NDI issued a Civic Update on Youth Programming7, focusing on involving young people in politics.

NDI Civic Update on Youth Programming in 2012

The following are extracts from this issue:

·         The NDI has long worked with youth in all forms of programming to empower them as mainstream political activists.

·         The NDI is currently working with young people in more than 20 countries and has carried out more than 120 youth programs worldwide.

·         The NDI views the participation of young people (age 18-35) as fundamental to successful democratic transitions.

·         Young people can become a force that demands and defends democracy when they are given an opportunity to organize themselves, voice their opinions and engage in political decision making.

·         Channeling this growing population’s talents and energies as a force for positive change represents a major democratic development opportunity.

·         It is essential to help this large group develop and exercise democratic values, engage in constructive activism, promote greater government responsiveness, and become political leaders with a unique voice and goals.

Why NDI works with Youth

Why NDI works with Youth
NDI Civic Update on Youth Programming in 2012
The issue then describes why the NDI works with youth, listing the following reasons:

  • Major challenges for youth participation are resistance to change by entrenched elite and older generations; 
  • There can be a perception among some stakeholders that youth are not qualified or do not have the necessary skills, knowledge or expertise to participate. 
  • Some entrenched leaders and authority figures may also fear the new ideas and interests that youth bring to their organizations, or to the governance system. 
  • In these settings, agents of change, such as youth, can be empowered and equipped with the tools to push for the change they would like to see. 
  • Compared to their older counterparts, young people are frequently more enthusiastic and are more willing to take initiative and risk. 
  • NDI’s focus group research has demonstrated that young, first-time voters are more open to voting for new parties, more willing to change political allegiances, more idealistic in their goals, and less loyal to established traditions. 
  • NDI recognizes that there is sometimes the need and opportunity to partner with more marginalized young people that are not yet organized or aware of the possibility of political participation. 
  • In these settings, youth, among others, want to play the roles of reformer and change agents. 
  • In these cases, NDI tends to work with youth that are already active within political parties or organizations and have shown themselves to be committed to positive change. 
  • NDI has focused on activities that empower ‘agents of change,’ including youth, to affect the policy agenda and become more involved in the political process. 
Here are some more images of the NDI working with children from the 2004 Civic Update entitled - Young People, not the problem, part of the solution:

NDI working with school children in Haiti

NDI working with school children in Haiti

Does this look familiar?

NDI working with Youth in Ukraine,
before Vladimir Putin found out what they were doing

NDI working with Youth in Ukraine,
before Vladimir Putin found out what they were doing

Read more about NDI Youth Programming in the following posts

For more information on NDI Youth Programming, please read the following posts:

NDI Civic Update: Young People, not the problem, part of the solution, 2004

NDI Report on Youth, 2007

NDI Civic Update on Youth Programming, 2012


1The promise of democratization in Hong Kong. Survey Report. NDI Pre-election report. NDI Hong Kong Report #1. June 10, 1997. See link to report here:

2The Promise of Democratization in Hong Kong: The September 12, 2004 Legislative Council Elections. A Pre-election Report. NDI Hong Kong Report #9. August 31, 2004. See link to report here:

3NDI Civic Update: Young People, not the problem, part of the solution. July 2004. See link to report here:

4NDI report: Contesting Campaigns in Hong Kong: A Critical Look at Infrastructure and Practices. July 2006. See link to report here:

5NDI. Where we work - Asia – Hong Kong. See link here:

6National Endowment for Democracy Annual Report 2012. Grants to Asia – China (Hong Kong)

7NDI Civic Update: Youth Programming. May 2012. See link to report here:

Photo credits

Professor Michael DeGolyer. Hong Kong Transition Project. Link:

Dr. Robert CHUNG Ting-yiu (鍾庭耀). HKU Scholars Hub. Link:;jsessionid=985FD6AD51C7DAB42CE4459096377886

Hong Kong NDI Youth Parliaments

Hong Kong-America Center (HKAC). Highlights of Fulbright/HKAC Special Projects 2009-2010. Model Legco Debate on Constitution Reform, 2010

Video Credit

Bachelor of Social Sciences (Honours) in Government and International Studies. Students participated in a simulation of the Legco debate on constitutional reform in 2010. GIS/NDI/Hong Kong America Centre video of student simulation. Copyright © 2016, Department of Government and International Studies, HKBU. See link:


  1. Thank you for creating this blog. It's a great source!

  2. I agree with the above applause. Keep up the great work.